I went to Vancouver for a shoot, but spent most of my time gorging myself on donuts. The donut game in Vancouver is on point, as is their chicken wing game. I had the odd misfortune attached to choosing to eat only at local hangouts of having to wait in a forty five minute line every. goddamn. time. It could’ve been 5:30 – nope! Seat at the bar for one? Wait outside! What about 8:45 on a Monday morning? Good luck!
There is no waking up early and catching the worm. There is only waiting, and hoping there’s a good bar around the corner to wait in.
This time the line was for Phnom Phen, the must try Cambodian spot in town. I’d never had Cambodian before, only Vietnamese and Thai, but as I saw plates piled high with herbs floating out of the kitchen and smelt the acrid scent of garlic wafting through the air, I knew I was in the right place. I unbuttoned the top of my jeans and ordered what I had waiting in line for: chicken wings please.
I expected something sticky and spicy, like a cross between Thai and Japanese wings. The result was totally unexpected: simple fired chicken tossed in cilantro, green onion, garlic, and then salt, pepper and…sugar.
The sugar was the linchpin here. It took yummy tasty wings and transformed them into crack wings. It made sense why every table had a graveyard of chicken bones strewn across plates. These were really freaking good.
I harassed the teenage sweetheart of a waiter into giving me the details, and honestly, there wasn’t any secret to it. Just a little rice flour to add a bit of crunch to the skin, and then the garnishes I had already sussed out. As I waddled out of the restaurant, two buttons open, dignity replaced with satiety, I promised myself I would whip this wings up myself at the earliest opportunity. Well, here they are. So put on some sweatpants, and get frying.
1 gallon vegetable oil
2 pounds chicken wings and drumettes
1/2 cup potato starch or rice flour
potato starch gives you a flakier texture and rice flour goes a darker golden brown
INGREDIENTS (TOSSING MIX)
1/4 cup green onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon finely chopped mint
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon finely ground pepper
Pour enough oil into a large pot or dutch oven to come up 3 inches, and heat over high heat until oil reaches 350°F.
Meanwhile, combine tossing mix ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Toss the wings in the starch or rice flour to coat, and add to the oil.
Cook the wings for 5 minutes, or until crispy and pale golden brown. Set aside on paper towels and let them cool for a few minutes. Bring the oil up to 400F, add the wings back in, and cook for another 6 or 7 minutes, until deep golden brown. Drain on paper towels, and add to a bowl.
Pour tossing mix ingredients over the chicken, toss the wings to coat, and serve while hot!